Letters to the Editor: Totally embarrassed

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Totally embarrassed
As a citizen of Israel and an Orthodox Jew, I am totally embarrassed to have two chief rabbis who are more politicians than halachic leaders (“US rabbinical body calls Chief Rabbinate a disgrace,” September 26).
Instead of working to unite the Jewish people, it seems they work only for their own narrow interests, no matter how it hurts the rest of the Jewish people.
When they wouldn’t recognize conversions by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, I thought things couldn’t get worse. But they did.
Now the Chief Rabbinate won’t recognize rulings by Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, president of the Beit Din of America and a giant in the interpretation of Halacha.
Having known Rabbi Schwartz personally for many years, I would venture to say that neither of our chief rabbis can come close to his Torah knowledge.
They definitely don’t come close when it comes to human compassion and true love and understanding for fellow Jews.
English TV news
With regard to “Future of English-language TV news still in doubt” (September 25), I am appalled that the new Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation would even consider not carrying the news in English when it begins operations shortly.
The English-language news broadcasts are a major source of news for Anglo olim and Anglos like myself who maintain an apartment here and split their time between Israel and English-speaking countries. Many of these Anglo olim and part-timers, no matter how much time they spend in an ulpan, are never going to achieve the level of Hebrew proficiency to fully understand the numerous Hebrew-language news broadcasts on radio and TV.
Your newspaper constantly features articles about the State of Israel’s fight against antisemitism, anti-Israel bias and BDS in the United States, Canada, the UK and other English-speaking countries.
The best possible advocates for Israel in those countries are the Anglo olim and part-timers; when they return even for short periods, they can argue Israel’s case with personal, first-hand knowledge.
English-language TV news is an important, if not vital, resource for the Anglo community. To abandon it because of political infighting or false claims of the effect on the economy would be a real mistake and make it so much harder for the Anglo community to effectively defend the State of Israel in all the ways that your newspaper is constantly exhorting us to do.
I simply do not understand why the State of Israel should even consider eliminating a great source of knowledge and information that people can use to advocate for Israel where it is really needed.
A way around
In “Committee to appoint rabbinical judges shows increasing haredi influence” (September 23), reporter Jeremy Sharon writes the following: “Under Jewish law, men may have more than one wife, although the practice was banned for Ashkenazi Jews by a decree of Rabbi Gershom Ben Judah in the 11th century, known as the Dispensation of 100 Rabbis.”
I wish to add that one can bypass the ban by obtaining the signatures of 100 rabbis who, in special cases, will agree with a bet din (rabbinical court) to exempt a man and allow him to marry a second wife.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Seeking Raoul
Regarding your excellent “Raoul Wallenberg’s family seek answers in Moscow” (September 23), I certainly wish them success in their efforts.
Back in the early 1980s, when I headed the Jerusalem Raoul Wallenberg Rescue Committee, I interviewed an elderly Russian immigrant named Avraham Chanukayev, who told me that in 1972, in a prison infirmary in Sverdlovsk, he had been in a bed next to that of another sick prisoner, whom he helped to feed. The prisoner told him that he was a Swede named Raoul Wallenberg, who had helped save the Jews of Budapest and was arrested by advancing Russian troops in 1945.
Chanukayev himself had been put in prison for Zionist activities.
Following his release, he made aliya to Beersheba. I had every reason to believe his testimony, which was further proof that Wallenberg survived in Gulag prisons and psychiatric wards long after a KGB announcement said he had died of a heart attack in prison in 1947.
I believe there might be quite a few other Soviet Jews in Israel today who also encountered Wallenberg in the Gulag, and could provide valuable leads.
Haredi power
With regard to “Haredim – an impending Kulturkampf” (Candidly Speaking, September 22), the haredim are sitting on a time bomb with their insolence and ignorance. Their conduct is no different from that of the racists and bigots in the country.
After the establishment of the State of Israel, prime minister David Ben-Gurion, with open arms, encouraged the ultra-Orthodox – the so-called epitome of Jewish religiosity – to join the political system. But to this day, we have discord and hostility in that system between secular Jews and the fundamental sects and cults of the various ultra-Orthodox tribes. Our secular constituency is now at the mercy of this radical haredi threat.
We are following a precarious path of fragile, ungovernable coalitions to the detriment of the Jewish people’s future, and there is an urgent need for a wellthought- out constitution that includes checks and balances combined with the separation of religion and state.
Trump and the Jews
Regarding “Pride and affirmative prejudice: Donald Trump and the Jews” (September 19), as a lifelong resident of the New York City area, I am fully cognizant of the role that Trump Towers played in preserving the integrity and stability of the Brooklyn Jewish community in the mid-20th century.
By the early 1960s, Coney Island had experienced a severe case of urban decay – drugs, violent crime and home destruction in the extreme. The Jewish community of that era was literally run out of the area. The middle- income communities of Sea Gate to the west and Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach to the east were threatened by this oncoming blight. But for the financial risk taken by the Trump family in building the Trump Towers and recruiting sponsors to construct the neighboring Warbass Houses and Luna Park development, these communities, the bedrock of south Brooklyn Jewish communal life, would have been totally obliterated.
The investment came in the face of much misguided opposition by liberal political leaders who saw the future of this area for low-income projects such as those constructed on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which resulted in the permanent exclusion of a viable Jewish community in much of the area north of Delancey Street.
Because of the Trumps, both father and, yes, son, this did not become the fate of south Brooklyn.
Also, it should be noted that the Brighton Beach area was to serve as the home to many Russian- Jewish refugees fleeing Communist oppression in the 1970s and ’80s.
Cedarhurst New York
CORRECTION In “Eye of the storm” (Letters, September 27), the letter from reader Mark. L. Levinson about Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev’s remarks at the recent Ophir Awards ceremony was improperly edited. It should have said: “She [Regev] said a sentence or two against him [Mahmoud Darwish], and then time marched embarrassingly on and on as the audience’s heckling failed to die down.” We regret the error.